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Interview: Democrat Remily Talks NBP, Jobs, Education in Bid for District 3 Senate

Last updated on 2015.12.07

District 3, which encompasses the Aberdeen–Bath metroplex, has a Democratic primary tomorrow for its State Senate seat. Aberdeen City Councilman Mark Remily would like the job; so would writer Angelia Schultz.

Remily graces the Madville Times with responses to some questions about major policy issues and the direction of the Democratic Party

Mark Remily, Democratic candidate for District 3 Senate
Mark Remily, Democratic candidate for District 3 Senate

Given that Northern Beef Packers sits just outside District 3, and that fallout from the collapse of the plant hit Aberdeen most directly, I asked Remily for the local perspective on what went wrong at NBP and with the EB-5 visa investment program that poured millions of dollars down that economic development black hole. Remily gets the impression NBP was "doomed from the onset." He's pessimistic about the ability of California buyers White Oak Global to restart the plant; the new owners are less interested in Aberdeen and "the over 200 workers and the many local businesses they stiffed." Remily suspects Aberdeen is more likely to see White Oak quietly dismantle and sell the plant than rehire and reopen.

Remily says he's not entirely against the EB-5 program that sustained NBP. He says the program is workable if we have oversight, but that we won't have reliable oversight and transparency until we have a "healthy minority" in Pierre. Until Democrats can check the one-party cronyism of Pierre, Remily says EB-5 should be banned.

Addressing economic development more broadly, Remily says job creation isn't our immediate problem. Unemployment in April was 3.8%, meaning over 96% of South Dakotans have jobs. "In Aberdeen, we have jobs," says Remily, "but the jobs we have do not pay enough to attract workers. It's a conundrum, which won't be solved till we raise the minimum wage." Remily says raising the wage to $15 an hour over time would help us recruit and retain workers.

Another way to recruit workers and boost the economy is to boost education. Remily says South Dakota has great teachers, but we subject them to Walmart working conditions. "Stress levels would be lower" for teachers, says Remily, "if they didn't have to have two jobs to make a living wage. Citing Aberdeen's base teacher pay of $33,240.00, Remily says raising teacher pay $15,000 would be a "good beginning."

Getting the money to boost teacher pay is always the sticking point. Remily says we need to pay our way by creating revenue streams. He likes Joe Lowe's suggestion of a 1% seasonal tourism tax. Remily goes further and recommends cashing in on cannabis:

One idea would be to join 17 other states in legalizing some form of cannabis sales. Using Colorado as an example. Their state coffers are filling up.... And guess what? Crime rate going down. State prisons would empty out of non-violent offenders saving more millions in incarceration costs. Legalize it, regulate it, tax it [Mark Remily, e-mail, 2014.05.28].

Ryan Gaddy, call your Aberdeen chapter....

Remily passionately supports expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. He is not as passionate about TransCanada. He says the first Keystone pipeline that runs through Brown County brought only a brief uptick in jobs for transient workers but no lasting economic boost. He does not support laying Keystone XL across West River.

I keep looking for a candidate who has a plan not just for winning his district but for boosting the Democratic Party statewide. The question of boosting Demcoratic fortunes is particularly relevant in Brown County, a traditional Democratic stronghold that just saw Republicans surpass Democrats in registered voters. Remily says there are plenty of Democrats around Brown County; they just aren't registering. he did his part to solve that problem by carrying voter registration forms when he circulated his own petition and earlier when he circulated the minimum-wage initiative petition. Remily says he and his fellow circulators registered nearly 100 new Democrats. "Most people want to be registered," says Remily, "but don't take the time to do it." If you want to build a party, says Remily, you've got to do the work.

Whoever wins tomorrow in District 3 faces Republican Rep. David Novstrup, who is trying to trade seats with his dad, Senator Al Novstrup. Remily ran for House in 2008 and lost to David Novstrup by about 900 votes (hey! at least Remily beat Isaac Latterell!). Remily says he's ready to bring bigger heat this election. He says his 40 years of "very public life" in Aberdeen, plus his friendly connections with Democrats, Independents, and Republicans around town make him "the only candidate who stands a chance of keeping David home next legislative session."

District 3, Mark Remily offers you a Democrat who takes pretty strong positions on wages and education funding. Remily is also willing to rattle cages with his suggestion of legalizing marijuana to generate revenue for the state. He pairs those strong positions with an assertion of long-time familiarity and electability in the community. Will you prove Remily right tomorrow, or will you choose a newcomer who prefers the "moderate" brand?


  1. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.02

    Remily sounds very good. SD Democrats are in dire need of party-building and this man sounds like he learned such lessons from the great George McGovern.

  2. Bert 2014.06.03

    Mark Remily is one of the most incompetent candidates in SD. Earlier this year he had to ask Rick Weiland at a public forum what a single payer system was because he "Doesn't understand what it is."

  3. Mark Remily 2014.06.03

    When I quit asking questions on subjects that are important to the people of South Dakota, only then, can you call me an incompetent candidate.

  4. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.03

    Mr. Remily, thanks for commenting here.

    I like what you're saying about education and economic growth. I lived in Hecla in the late 90s, went to NSC in the 70s, and played softball many summers in Aberdeen. When I was there in college, the town seemed more relaxed and open than it is now. I think it's a growing conservatism that brings a hardened rigidity with it. The Exponent sounded significantly different back in the day too.

    Mr. Remily, what is your response to my assessment?

  5. Ryan Gaddy 2014.08.26

    Friday Aug 29th . . Starting march at 915am to gubernatorial debate @ State Fair.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.26

    ...seems a reasonable educational event to hold at South Dakota's premier agricultural event. Curious: does one need a permit to stage an exhibition at the State Fair?

Comments are closed.